Puerto Rico upsets Cuba, will play for Gold and qualifies for FIVB Worlds

DURANGO, Mexico, August 22, 2021- Puerto Rico will play for Gold and qualified to the FIVB 2022 World Championship upsetting Cuba 3-1 (25-16, 19-25, 26-24, 31-29) in semifinals at the Men’s NORCECA Continental Championship in Durango, Mexico.

Puerto Rico struck first with a convincing first set, while Cuba came back with strength over the net to even the scores. Puerto Rico’s victory came in a nail biting fourth set 31-29 finish not before recovering from a four point deficit (20-24) for a possible tie-break; Puerto Rico missed three match points before moving into the gold medal match.

Opposite Gabriel García led Puerto Rico’s scorers with 18 points on 15 kills, 2 blocks and one ace, outside hitters Pedro Molina and Pelegrin Vargas contributed with 11 and 10 points respectively.

Cuban Jesús Herrera scored a match-high of 24 points; while his teammates outside hitter Miguel Angel Lopez tallied 18 points and middle blocker José Israel Masso registered 10 points.

Puerto Rico took advantage on scoring 44 points from Cuba’s unforced errors while Cuba led in every skill with 55-47 in attacks, 12-7 in blocks and 6-3 in service points; Puerto Rico committed 21 errors.

Arturo Iglesias, Captain of Puerto Rico: “It was difficult to overcome Cuba’s strength, on several occasions we came from behind but our patience was worth it, we waited to score one point at a time confident of our skills”.

Oswald Antonetti, Coach of Puerto Rico: “Cuba has been one of the best in NORCECA for their ability in capturing players, their physical qualities and preparation; and on our side good volleyball that needs this kind of experiences to grow and for our identity. We are glad with this project”.

Yosvani Muñoz, Coach of Cuba: “Puerto Rico took well the opportunities, we committed too many errors during the entire game, and we lost many serves. Tomorrow we aim for the podium. We lost the direct qualification to Worlds but hopefully our ranking position will allow us to be there”.